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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 2.38%
Average: 4.76%
Pretty Bad: 33.33%
Total Crap59.52%

5 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Ugly Truth, The
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by Erik Childress

"The Movie That Will Never Be Alone Because It Blows"
1 stars

There are few things that offend my moviegoing experiences more than a bad romantic comedy. One of them though is when the makers of said rom-coms try to dispense with the usual crap and try to expose the truth about how men and women truly think. If they were successful we probably wouldn’t degrade their efforts with such a dismissable moniker. The Ugly Truth is one such film that promises to blow the lid off nookie with such mindblowing revelations that men like boobs and if women have it they should flaunt it. The shocking thing about its stunning ineptitude and attitude is that while it may have been directed by a man – albeit one with all the talent of a water bra – it’s screenplay is credited to, count ‘em, three women who have managed to make Defending the Caveman seem like the height of exposing our Martian tendencies.

Our Venutian this time out is Abby (Katherine Heigl), a producer for a Sacramento morning show that would have little luck getting picked up in Mars Needs Women. Forget the fact that she looks like Katherine Heigl and does a goofy happy dance as her staple. Abby has a checklist and page of talking points that she takes on dates and instantly has us identifying with Kevin Connolly’s poor shmoe who switches from red wine to scotch within a minute of meeting her. When the old maid returns home to reinforce the stereotype that all lonely women have cats, the feline tunes her in to a cable access show hosted by Mike (Gerard Butler) who claims to have the unchartered secrets for men to get laid and how women can shut up about not landing a dude by learning the shlong flute.

Naturally the next morning, Mike has been hired by her show to do a three-minute segment on “the ugly truth” between men and women. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea should ask Chicagoans how NBC’s stunt hiring of Jerry Springer to pontificate in a similar segment on the evening news went over. Abby sees him as a brutish misogynist. Mike sees her as someone who needs to get laid. Game on. Oh, but wait a moment. Abby comes upon a piece of meat otherwise known as her doctor neighbor, Colin (Eric Winter), and after one embarrassing encounter Mike takes up coaching her on the fine art of dressing up a good body, flirting, playing hard-to-get and how to get suggestive with a hot dog. How many millions are they paying this guy? Meanwhile Mike almost instantly develops an attraction for Abby once he sees his best laid plans working. Why? “Beats the shit out of me, but I am.”

OK, so “shut up and deal” it ain’t, but for a film that’s already reminded us once of When Harry Met Sally with a pathetic attempt to recapture Meg Ryan’s public orgasm, they might have thought of giving us something in the neighborhood of Harry’s New Year’s proclamation of love towards his high-maintenance friend. The Ugly Truth has no clue why it wants to get these two people together other than being a rom-com requirement. Through all his 300 B.C. advice and cheap vulgarity, Mike is given a nephew and a sister (neither with Scottish accents) to soften him up. Abby is one to never change at all except at the insistence of his tips leaving a rather mixed message in all of it. The script by debuting Nicole Eastman, likely handed over for a polish by the team of Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith (responsible for Legally Blonde, She’s the Man and The House Bunny – all films about what women have to do to compromise their values in a man’s world) is telling us is that women shouldn’t expect guys to change their simplistic needs or fall in love and they should fulfill their best dressed fantasies and covering up their own criticisms so as not to drive them away and live alone forever. And it does this by using two of the most asthetically pleasing actors to both sexes that you could find. Let Mike work some magic on Susan Boyle and we might be more impressed.

It takes more than a couple pleasing smiles to convince us of chemistry though and its clear from their first appearances that Heigl and Butler are trying to project these personalities full force at us instead of naturally inhabiting them. Ironic, huh? While right in front of us are the far-more comedically inclined John Michael Higgins and Cheryl Hines as the married morning show hosts that become the brunt of Mike’s first on-air attack. Higgins casual remark about a bird being in his dressing room is the only laugh I had through all 96 painful minutes. Instead the pair are wasted as the fighting spouses who are instantly cured when Mike gets him to take charge and kiss her on the air. The majority of coffee talk morning shows only get noticed for their YouTube chinks in the armor, but how long would one really stay on the air once the word “gangbang” is casually introduced?

Since Apatow and Co. has made it OK for romantic comedies (no shortened monikers necessary) to go “R”-rated with the likes of such superior films as The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, you would think The Ugly Truth would appeal to people with adult sensibilities tired of the watered down PG-13 efforts like The Proposal and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. No such luck here since this is the equivalent of shock vulgarity instead of casually working blue the way many of us are prone to. And the F-bombs hardly stand out the way they do in this week’s Orphan of all films. It’s the more sexually explicit dialogue that will garner the occasional gasp from women in the audience. As for the men, you tell me what’s more endearing, funny and sexy – Zooey Deschanel making a public spectacle out of the word “penis” in the exceptional (500) Days of Summer out now or Katherine Heigl proving she can say “cock” over and over.

Having taken a lot of grief over my severe panning of The Hangover this summer, I offer everyone another example of a director clueless to setting up and paying off comedy. Robert Luketic, whose resume consists of the aforementioned Legally Blonde, Win A Date With Tad Hamilton, Monster-In-Law and 21 (the Vegas card-counting film which he described at its SXSW premiere as “an action film”) is just at a complete loss and what’s supposed to be funny. Abby has to be privately and publicly humiliated at least three times during the film to score the film’s big comic set pieces. These include being caught in her underwear hanging from a tree, caught on a jumbotron supposedly going to third base at a ballgame and the aforementioned orgasm courtesy of vibrating panties controlled by an unsuspecting child. Poorly played by Heigl with no discernable payoff at the dinner table, this bit of comedy has nothing at stake except to watch her stumble words through a game of Flick The Bean. (Mike’s words, not mine.) Look at the moment where Hines discovers she’s eaten a spoonful of Duck Cacciatore on-the-air and the control room scrambles to take the focus off her. What precisely is the joke here? Does she hate duck? Is she allergic? Did her pet duck just die? Is she on some kind of Daffy PETA task force? Nothing is offered for explanation leaving the joke to be Hines trying to hide her distaste of what looks to be a rather tasty dish.

It was not the only place my attention wandered from what Luketic was trying to focus on. By the climactic scene where a wannabe Mike all but endorses rape on a live TV feed, it’s up, up and away for a balloon ride for the duo to work out their issues for the audience in and out of the screen. The whole scenario got me thinking to other balloon-inspired settings in film starting with an ironic one in the aptly titled Men Don’t Leave. From there I shifted towards the opening of the equally apt Enduring Love where an out-of-control balloon leaves one man plummeting to his death. Finally I couldn’t help but think how much funnier Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol was. What did I laugh at in Police Academy 4? Beats the shit out of me. But I know that if I’m considering Carey Mahoney as a more believable lothario in a PG-rated comedy, The Ugly Truth has only exposed itself as a pathetic fraud of a film.

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originally posted: 07/24/09 14:00:00
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User Comments

11/05/15 David Hollingsworth No comment, because it was just that bad. 1 stars
9/23/11 Nuala Kelly from NI I've not got a wee potata face 1 stars
11/15/09 Duke7734 Some fun...Gerard is great in comedy, too 3 stars
9/02/09 Rhys Hiegel can't act. Take some acting lessons. 1 stars
8/19/09 Luisa Cute chick flick with enough raunchiness 4 stars
8/08/09 Angie It started O.K. but went WAY downhill... 3 stars
8/04/09 Steve Hock Trash, trash, and more Heigl trash! 1 stars
8/02/09 Ming this film has no chemistry...its supid for her to fall for him 2 stars
7/31/09 This movie sucks Yes, it's sexist and retarded. 1 stars
7/30/09 gc No chemistry, lame bathroom humor, rips off when harry met sally too 1 stars
7/25/09 Isaac Lies 2 stars
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  24-Jul-2009 (R)
  DVD: 10-Nov-2009


  DVD: 10-Nov-2009

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